TWF Letter Conference Call

February 18, 2018 Meeting Minutes
March 23, 2018
Article submitted to the News Sentinel:
November 20, 2019
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TWF Letter Conference Call

To: Lindsay Gardner, TWF Conference Call Lead

Fr: Dr. Timothy Joseph, Chairman, Watts Bar Ecology & Fishery Council – WBEFC


I was on the national silver carp conference call yesterday, Nov 31st, and I am very disappointed someone chose to ask only one of my questions. You closed the meeting saying “Well, that’s about all we have…” when my two questions could have been asked:


 Will there be any effort to use formal or informal decision analysis to ensure that funding allocations are based on the greatest environmental and economic benefit?


Will preventing the devastation of the carp-free Upper TN River Basin be placed at a higher priority than mitigating silver carp devastated lakes?


TWF obviously chose not to address these because they were indeed tough questions. This was unprofessional and irresponsible. I do not disagree with all the talk about commercial fishing, nets, markets, fish taste, cooking/preparation, etc., but spending 95% of a national conference call talking about those topics while totally “Ignoring” WBEFC’s concerns including protecting the Upper TN River Basin of lakes is a misuse of TWF role and responsibility. How do you justify talking about how to make carp taste good, rather than discussing preventing the devastation of the Upper TN River Basin’s environment and economics, and how decisions will be made regarding allocating money between mitigation and prevention?


TWF should be doing EVERYTHING possible to support WBEFC efforts to keep the silver carp from reaching the five-beautiful carp-free lakes in the Upper TN River Basin, but they steered the questions away from what is truly critical. TWF has a responsibility to do everything possible to save our lakes, but 95% of TWF’s concerns relate to mitigating carp devastated lakes and getting people to eat them. When is the TWF going to stop looking primarily at mitigation and face the truly CRITICAL issue of protecting the Upper TN River Basin from the same devastation? Why is nearly all the attention, money, and concern going to devastated lakes at the expense of the Upper TN River Basin? The only thing mentioned was that they were considering where to place a BAFF, and nothing about when or how any decision would be made, nor even any thought to consider or evaluate electric barriers.


Your presenter who mentioned an electric barrier somewhere said, “When they turned it on it arced to a bridge ½ mile upstream.” When one of your attendees questioned the “arc,” the answer was, “I don’t know how far upstream, but the bridge was nearby.” He then said, “If you fell in the water, you’re done.” I am formally requesting TWF send me the information or data on that “arc.” I want to see exactly where he got that information, see the data about the arc, and understand what the arc looked like—please send it to me ASAP.


That individual was coming across as an “Expert” in a field I doubt he has any expertise whatsoever, and for him to make such a false and frightening statement was unprofessional and unacceptable. If it was “hearsay,” to repeat it was wrong and must be corrected. He has instilled in everyone listening and everyone they talk to, that electric barriers are lethal. THEY ARE NOT. He went on to say that where the electric barriers are in Chicago, there is not a “lot” of recreation traffic, implying that because only a “few” people might fall in the water and “Be done with,” installation was allowed. The amount of recreation traffic has no bearing, for if there was ANY possibility of lethality, they wouldn’t allow installation of electric barriers. I am requesting that unless you can provide me with the data and information that says they are lethal, you “Formally” correct what was said on that conference call and publish it on your website immediately, and during next month’s call you correct his statements, and make it clear that electric barriers cannot electrocute a person.


I have done a great deal of research on electric barriers, I have been in contact with Smith and Root staff, the major contractor of electric barriers and discussed voltage and amperage in detail and received a lot of technical information on the amperage level in the water. If they were lethal or even close, the WBEFC would NOT want them installed and would not be advocating them, but there is NO possibility of electrocution. Do you actually think the WBEFC would advocate a potential death sentence? The amperage to the heart of a person falling in the water at the highest-level electrode would be around 0.0014 amps, 14/1,000th of an amp. Yes, they would feel it and it would be uncomfortable, but they could swim and get out of the water with no problem (see my PPt slide below). People have swum through the barriers. Electrocution is not possible. For detailed data/information regarding the risk of falling in the water, please contact David Luneke of Smith & Root — He will gladly send you technical information regarding the amperage in the water and its risk.


I was prescribed a TENS unit for neck pain. I attach two electrodes to my shoulders, and the amperage is way more than ten times that level. It rapidly pulses and my muscles tense and I don’t like it one bit. No, It’s not directly to my heart, but they wouldn’t be allowed if I could receive a lethal level through misuse. There are more than 50 electric barriers in the U.S. and others in Europe (see slide below), do you think for a moment they would have been approved if they were lethal? The TWF has done an injustice regarding electric barriers and I mandate that you correct this.


One of the presenters said, “Another good feature of the BAFF is that they will stop silver carp while allowing native fish to pass.” Where did he get that information/data? I am requesting I be sent such information, studies, and data that shows that a BAFF will allow native fish to pass but will prevent the silver carp from passing through it. I am a PhD Fishery Biologist with a great deal of research under my belt and I can tell you if the BAFF lets native fish pass (which it will), it will easily let silver carp pass. To think that a BAFF will stop the silver carp but not native fish is naïve and illogical—show me the data. Yes, different species of fish react differently to stimuli, and a BAFF will deter most fish, but it will not deter every fish. Furthermore, they do not know the best sound frequency, volume, or pulse rate to use, so where did he get his data? Please have that information and data and/or studies that allowed him to make his statement sent to me ASAP.


It is clear to me that you allowed presentations on a nationwide conference call to be given by individuals without the expertise, degrees, training, or experience needed to factually address many issues. By their merely being a presenter, they are declared experts. As well, TWF chose not to answer relevant and significant question because they might be controversial or difficult to address. Thus, in future conference calls I ask that each of your presenters state their education and expertise in the areas in which they will be addressing, and that they provide the studies or data to support important statements (such as electric barriers or efficacy of a BAFF), and that they not make statements they can’t back up with science/data. I also ask that you “Publish” all the questions you received following the conference call and forward to all the participants upon request. Too, since it seemed you were following some sort of outline of “topics” being addressed, I ask you to add four topics to your outline:


  1. Efforts to protect the carp-free Upper TN River Basin;
  2. Importance of Prevention vrs. Mitigation in allocating funds—how decisions will be made;
  3. Effectiveness of BAFF vrs. Electric barrier;
  4. Risk of Electric Barrier.


The TWF has taken upon itself to manage an extremely serious problem—the silver carp devastation, real and pending. Thus, you have a responsibility to be comprehensive and accurate, and key statements must be backed up with the science and data behind the statements of fact. To do otherwise is both unprofessional and unacceptable. There are two very serious issues, mitigation and prevention. Preventing the devastation of the Upper TN River Basin and its lakes and ecosystem is, in the eyes of the WBEFC more important than trying to mitigate lakes with the silver carp devastation. Any reasonable person will agree that preventing devastation is more important than mitigating devastation. If you can prevent devastation, you won’t have to mitigate. If you don’t, you will be mitigating the Upper TN River Basin forever, just as with Barkley and Kentucky Lakes. That is just not logical. Priorities must be established when funding is limited, plain and simple.


The WBEFC is not wishing to be difficult, we are doing our best by using economic and ecological science to hopefully prevent the Upper TN River Basin from being destroyed by the silver carp. We feel for those people dealing with the devastated lakes, and are not trying to diminish their plight, but too, because of the devastation they are living with, they should understand fully why we don’t want that devastation to happen here, and they should support doing everything possible to prevent us from having to deal with what they are dealing with, and place prevention before mitigation.


Please address my requests.

Thank you

Genuine Regards.


Dr. Joseph




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